ATV - Asia Television Limited

Access to ATV documents restricted

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2011, 12:00am

An ATV director who won court-ordered access to the broadcaster's operating documents earlier this month had his victory limited yesterday, when restrictions were slapped on his use of the documents.

Kevin Tsai Shao-chung may use the finance and operations documents only to discharge his duties as a member of ATV's board of directors, the Court of Appeal ruled.

The court imposed the condition after Asia Television applied for a delay of a Court of First Instance order on September 16 that it disclose its finance and operations documents to Tsai, pending an appeal against the lower court's ruling.

Yesterday, lawyers for ATV management argued that the restriction was necessary to prevent Tsai from supplying confidential information to his father, Taiwanese snack tycoon and ATV shareholder Tsai Eng-meng.

The elder Tsai, they said, might use the documents in a court fight against other shareholders over control of the station. Anson Wong, for ATV and its executive director James Shing Pan-yu, said: 'A lot of the company information had been used [by Tsai Eng-meng] for litigation between shareholders. The company wants to be neutral to these litigations.'

Wong said the trial judge had erred in his ruling that it was not improper for Tsai to pass the information on to owners of a company that owned shares of ATV.

Barrister Charles Manzoni, for Tsai, called the application a 'tactical ploy' used by ATV's major investor, Wong Ching, a relative of Shing.

'What Wong is trying to do is to keep his sole control of ATV for as long as he can,' Manzoni said. 'Mr Wong is trying to wrest the control from Mr Tsai.'

The Court of Appeal's Mr Justice Joseph Fok imposed the condition on Tsai after refusing to grant a stay of the order to release the documents to him.

Shing told a Legislative Council panel earlier this month that he was not the source of ATV's mistaken report about former president Jiang Zemin's death in July, and neither were Wong or senior vice-president Kwong Hoi-ying. He said the senior management had never interfered in the newsroom, and they respected the freedom of the press and editorial independence.